We don’t read Harriet anymore. It’s too dreary, too artsy-fartsy-friends-puffing-artsy-fartsy-friends, too boring. But our man Gary Fitzgerald was kind enough to email us today to let us know that John Oliver Simon has not forgotten us.
Thanx, Gary Fitzgerald, John Oliver Simon, u rock.
Harriet, the Poetry Foundation Blog, who banned Thomas Brady, Alan Cordle, Desmond Swords, and Christopher Woodman at one stroke on September 1, 2009, is going through a little identity crisis at the moment: how shall I moderate? How shall I banish? Are those who post on my site a community? Can posters police themselves? What is my responsibility towards them, if any?
Before we start equating the firing on Fort Sumter (THE UNION IS DISSOLVED!) to the sarcastic squabbling between Kent Johnson, Michael Robbins, and Henry Gould and the current crop of boy scouts and girl scouts on Harriet, let’s remember that once a self-infatuated twit, always a self-infatuated twit.
Boyd Nielson suggested in a comment on a Harriet post recently that Harriet is a private blog and can therefore ban and delete as she pleases. But instead of embracing this reality, Boyd Nielson continues, Harriet is failing to make her authority transparent, hiding behind proxies such as ‘thumbs up/ thumbs down voting’ and ‘report this comment’ to punish, to delete, to ‘hold for moderation’ and ultimately to ban, in a faceless manner that is irresponsible, cowardly, and weak.
Scarriet (ya got somethin to say, say it) is blissfully free of this.
To Harriet’s “identity crisis,” and to all the winding, administrative hair-splitting discussion it might elicit, we say: pffft.
Self-important Harriet, and other blogs like it, will 1) banish, 2) delete posts reporting the banishment, and 3) delete posts complaining of those deletions and 4) practice this for infinity, a black-hole-ish, whirling cesspool of censorship.
Paul McCartney will play a concert for Harriet, and their devoted acolytes will sing:
Well, the rain exploded with a mighty crash as we fell onto a limb,
And the first one said to the second one there, I hope that you can swim!
Banned on a whim! Banned on a whim!
Private enterprise is wonderful and Harriet’s status as a private club allows her to throw bums to the curb with impunity. But merely being private is not the great thing, by any means.
Private enterprise is not wonderful because it allows Harriet, the private club, to throw to the curb whomever she chooses, for if it stopped there, ‘private’ would be synonymous with ‘tyranical.’
Scarriet’s existence fills out the formula of private enterpise as something truly good. The private by itself is not good, nor is the private masking itself as the public good, either.
It is only competing private entities which allow for something truly wonderful: real freedom, real debate, sweet discovery, hot thrills, trembling chills, and freezing kisses, warm and exciting.
Ya got dat?…Travis…ya dirty rat…